I hope this post finds you well.
I must apologize for having a blog and not blogging, I must admit, I have found it difficult to keep up with everything this year.
I am hoping that next year will be a little easier health, situation and organisation wise and that I will be able to post more on the website, blog and Facebook pages.
I just wanted to pop in quickly, say hi to you all and also to say thank you to a fabulous group of people that I worked with recently.
Friday 6th December 2019 was going to be great; it was the day that the Wyndham City Council was holding their International Day Of People With Disability market/fun day and I had been invited to showcase my work as a stall holder with disability/chronic illness.
So, I happily accepted (of course).
The day came, and sitting in the garage in the black plastic crates I use for markets etc, were copies of my three children’s books, some anthologies, matching greeting cards and audio books. There was another box of painted canvases and place-mats and of course, there was a box with my hand painted pendants and such.
It was a lot of stuff and I knew that I would feel it later, after packing and unpacking the car, set up/pack down and the like. I could only get on with it and hope that my body would be kind to me.
Watching the sky throughout the day, I wondered how this was going to go. The market was outdoors and for me, with multiple chronic illness, weather can make or break my month (I wish that was a joke but alas...)
If I go out and the sun is bright/hot, it causes me to break out in something called a Butterfly rash and is likely to cause a flare of my symptoms. If it is cold and/or windy, my hands a feet turn blue (Raynauds) and I may end up with an asthma flare. It really is a roll of the dice on any given day, so doing anything outdoors for a length of time, can cause some anxiety. The life of a person with Chronic Illness really is a juggling act between want and need in most situations. You must decide, is it worth it?
Is sitting at the beach with a coffee worth the after-sun symptoms? Is it too dusty today to leave the house? How long can I be out there today?
Some days, it is just best to stay indoors but I was looking forward to this market and the networking that might happen during the event.
So, Friday afternoon, I loaded up the car, and covered myself in sunscreen. Making sure I had my medication and any emergency supplies I might need; I made my way to the Civic Centre in Werribee.
With traffic in this area getting worse and it is taking so long to get even 1k from the house, I made sure to set off early and got lucky with the traffic, it was moving!
Making it with half an hour to spare, I had time to sit and rest before going in search of someone who could help me to find my table.
It was not hard to find someone to direct me. The event staff had fluro vests and large signs around their necks ‘Need Help?’. I loved that the staff were so visible and that there were so many of them. This made everything so much easier.
There are markets where I could really do with someone to help me unload/set up, pack up and reload the car but this day, I felt okay and could do it on my own (yay). The event staff were ready, waiting and willing to give me (and other people) a hand if needed.
Reaching my stall spot, I was surprised and very grateful to see that the lovely organiser Paula, had put a marquee over my table.
After me explaining to her that I could not be in the sun for any length of time and that I was worried about it, she had kindly gone out of her way and set up this proper cover for me.
Paula, if you read this, thank you so much! It made me feel good to be looked after so well and I appreciate it.
Surprisingly (I was very surprised) the sun kept itself hidden while I set up my table, and instead, it’s cousin.. the wind decided that it was time to paaaartay.
I must say, that after only doing indoor markets, it was difficult to set up a table of books and light canvas paintings, while the wind was doing a boogie around the site. After excluding some items and weighing things down, I managed to get myself set up and ready to go.
Multiple times during set-up, I had an event staff member come over and check that I was alright and ask if I needed help or anything to make things easier.
How awesome is that?!
From being given a different chair when I needed it to be given some things to weight my books and prevent them from flying off like Mary Poppins, everyone was so sweet and so accommodating.
Set up and ready when the 4pm start time came around, I sat behind my table and took in the sights of the celebration. The effort that the organisers had made to truly make it accessible and a celebration of people with disability was awesome.
The large stage had a ramp, the event staff walked around checking on participants and visitors and my favorite part? Two women stood on the stage (and sometimes in front) and interpreted everything on the stage; In AUSLAN, for those who needed it.
I watched as the two women took turns signing the announcements, the speakers and all the songs (so clever). It was great to see and made it a lot easier for people like me with hearing difficulties.
Though I am not fluent in sign and am still learning, I was able to get the general idea of what was happening, by watching these women. Otherwise, I would not have had a clue as I could not hear what was happening.
There was also a quiet room inside and away from the action, should anybody with sensory challenges, need a place to chill out for a while.
The performers on stage, were people with some type of disability, which was awesome. It is great that they were able to bless us all with their talent and passion.
The other stalls were awesome, and I enjoyed chatting to participants and visitors.
I realise this post is getting long and will wrap up shortly, but I just wanted to share how amazing this event was.
I sold some books (yay), I sold some pendants and made some great connections and I hope I am given the chance to participate again next time.
It was great to see a disability service provider (GenU) bring some clients to enjoy the event and there was a stallholder from The Men’s shed names Collin, who was a joy to be sitting next to. He sold and showcased his pottery creations with pride and and so he should, they were gorgeous.
I was just a fabulous event. The day was so well organised and run and I really wish more people had known about it.
I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to Paula from Wyndham City Council for looking after me so well, making sure that I had a great afternoon/evening and for putting on such a inclusive, accessible, fun event in honor of those with disability.
Also, a huge THANK YOU to everybody else who helped to set up, run and pack up the event, you all made it an awesome day.
It was amazing and I love every second (even the wind).
I hope to see you all at future events.
I will sign off now, but will post again soon. I am working on a series of blog posts on the topic of writers/artists with disability and hope to have that up soon (ish).
Keep checking back and see you soon!
A different post to my usual.. please bare with me...
In the early hours on Sunday the 9th of June 2019, while my home country of New Zealand slept, a huge and important part of the landscape, the city, my Whanau (family) and my memories was lost to a devastating and heartbreaking fire.
Tapu Te Ranga marae in Island Bay, Wellington, New Zealand stood 10 stories high and was the largest wooden structure made of recycled materials.
It was built by hand, by Koro Bruce Stewart, an ex-prisoner with $25 and a dream.
He and many others poured in many an hour, many years of hard work to make this magnificent sanctuary what it was.
It was a home, it was a sanctuary, it was a meeting place and a place that anybody, from any walk of life could come and be safe. It was a place that became known to so many as the place that saved them. The place that taught them about life, about other people and about Maoritanga.
This place was where I spend my last moments with my mother. We held her Tangi here (funeral) and it was where I got to sit beside her and listen as my whanau and friends sang with her and with us. It holds many memories for me and my family. Not just these memories but many others.
Family gatherings / get togethers/events. Hours in the kitchen, working to make one event or other, what it needed to be.
This sprawling place, that towered above everything around it. This place that so many called home, that we all knew was there when we needed it, is no more.
Tapu Te Ranga was not just a structure. It was a home, a place full of memories, people, artifacts, history and hard work. It was a place full of dreams and love.
Many hearts are broken. Many people around the world are devastated.
As the diggers and fire fighters clear the smoking debris of what was our castle, I pray for everyone affected. I pray for my cousins, my aunties, my uncles. I pray for the residents who lived on site. I send love and the warmest thoughts to everybody who has been devastated and affected by this tragedy.
I love you all.
As I sit here, writing this post, tears once again streaming down my face and my heart hurting, thinking of my whanau back home, I wonder what I can do to help.
I am one person.
Then I think.
One person and his dreams, he created all of this. Koro was the reason we all could come together in this place and be together.
Why can't I do something?
(Please see auction details below x)
There is a give-a-little page that has been set up to help rebuild this amazing place.
It will never be the same, there is no way anyone would try to make it so. It will however be rebuilt with love and warmth and will be a wonderful place that will help to heal so many shattered hearts and lives <3
To help, please follow the link below.
Also, I will be setting up an auction in the next few days.
All money raised will be going straight to the families who lived on site and have lost everything. I hope it will go a small way to helping them and their small children the things they need in the coming weeks.
The auction will consist of
X1 signed copy of Forever Friends
X1 signed copy of Mikah Big Move
X1 Audio Book Mikah’s Big Move
X2 Hand painted Pendants
-Naming rights of a character in one of my next children’s books and credit for this on the copyright page of that book.
-Postage to your location.
Note- I know these things usually sell for a set price, but I do hope that if you can, you will bid anyway, and we can give just a little help to those who are hurting right now and have immediate needs.
Details on the auction to follow.
For now, I will sign off.
To my whanau … I love you all, so much and am so grateful that you all made it our safely <3 hold tight to each other and know I am thinking of you all x x
"We who build the house are built by the house"
Welcome to my new look website and to the first blog post of the same.
I hope you like the makeover and find it easy to navigate. Any questions/comments or suggestions, contact me via the contact page and I will get right back to you.
So, let’s get to it… Welcome!
What has been happening? Plenty actually, where to start is the dilemma… maybe I will just jump right in where the biggest stuff began.
Some of you know that I have multiple health issues (more on that in an upcoming blog post about authors with chronic illness). Well, a month after my first book, Mikah’s Big Move was released in July last year, I had a small stroke. This caused me to lose feeling in my face, have trouble with balance, have swallowing problems, trouble walking lifting my left foot/leg and it was dragging so I tripped a lot, trouble with speech/muscles, the use of my left arm and hand, terrible fine motor skills, thinking skills and I was generally very out of it and unwell.
After many sessions of Physio, Speech and Occupational therapy and plenty of self-led (I’m stubborn) therapy at home, I have *Pic- Near end of therapy* been able to slowly get back on track.
For me, writing is like air. A Lot of the things I do, revolve around my writing. I think about writing, I write, I talk about writing and I breathe writing. So when this event took away my ability to think, to speak properly, to hold a pen, to write and to untangle and sort my thoughts into some sort of an order and have the words make sense, I was frustrated, confused and devastated.
I tried to type and even that was not something that I could manage for a while. Every word was coming out * l k e th s * although I believe it looked * like this *
What do you do when this happens? When your abilities are taken in an instant? When you can do something one moment and then the next you cannot lift your arm or leg?
You go to hospital, you go to therapy, you do what you need to do, and you keep at it, however frustrating, hard and uphill it is.
It is so much better now. I can talk, walk, and I can write!
I do still have moments when I will have problems eating and food will get caught and cause coughing episodes, but these are not often anymore.
I do have moments when I stumble over words, but these are larger words or words with many syllables, rather than most words.
Some days it is harder to talk, on these days, I just tend to be a bit quieter (yes, I can be! Stop giggling 😊)
Occasionally I will be off balance and have trouble with my left foot dragging, but again, it just means I need to concentrate harder and move slower.
All in all though, it is so much better.
I do however, appreciate your understanding if you come across any spelling, grammar, typing or other errors in my posts.
Recovery is an ongoing thing after all.
I was worried, while going through this last years therapy and the long hours of writing and rewriting the alphabet and moving pegs from one side of a cup to the other with my weak hand/ the side that was affected (fine motor skills therapy) which also happens to be my writing hand (arrrggg) that my second book would not be released as planned due to the upset in my health, again.
I am so blessed to have an awesome illustrator however and things were kept on track while I was recovering.
My second children’s picture book- Forever Friends, was illustrated by the amazingly talented Alexander Kulieshov, who also illustrated my first book Mikah’s Big Move.
He carried on working in the background and getting the book finished while I was away and sending him strange messages with big errors and gaps in words (as above), the poor man! Sorry Alex!
So, by May this year (2019) Forever Friends was ready to launch into the world, on time! And launch it we did!
Last weekend, on Saturday the 1st June, I, along with friends and fans gathered at Cody’s Café in Manor Lakes, the place where I wrote the book and together, over a relaxed coffee and some laughs, we released it into the wild.
The morning saw me making sure that I had everything prepared and going through my checklist. I do love my checklists.
Books, Merchandise, Business Cards, Tablecloths, Tape, Scissors, Stands, Signage, Paper, Change and Colouring pages oh my!
Must take all the things!
Anything I forgot? My marbles! Of Course! hehe
I arrive promptly fifteen minutes after I planned to but by 12:45pm I had the large table inside the café set up and looking fabulous. The new book sat proudly on the table and my first book and some other merchandise sat in their places next to it. The other end of the table held book themed colouring pages and pencils for children who would be attending, and I was all set!
The nerves had well and truly set in when my first attendees arrived and I tell you, it was perfect time for them to walk around the corner. My friend Lauren and her young daughter Lizzie were just what I needed, and she reminded me to breathe, which was perfect. She also reassured me that, whatever happened, there was someone there (the two of them) as I had started to panic that no one would show. So the worst case scenario had already been halted in its tracks and it could only get better!
As more people began to arrive, we took over the front part of the café ( big thanks to the café staff and other customers for putting up with us).
I chatted to people, sold books, signed books (with my handwriting over the previous twelve months, the therapy came in handy and it turned out great!) and wrote messages in books, I sat and chatted to children who came along about writing, reading, illustrations and my books and characters and I must say, that was my favorite part.
I love sharing my love of writing and imagination with the younger generation. We need to encourage them and accept them and their loves and ideas.
We need to help them grow, they are the future after all!
All in all, I had an amazing day and was so happy that I was able to go ahead with the launch. It was different to my first book launch for Mikah’s Big Move, which I held online, but different is sometimes good, don’t you agree?
Being an introvert, this event took me out of my comfort zone, but I came out of it feeling good. Exhausted, but good 😊
This event also had the added benefit of showing me just how far I have come since my health decline last year and showed me that my hard work has gone a way to bringing me closer to my old self.
As Dory would say ‘Just keep swimming, just keep swimming’.
I would like to say a huge and grateful THANK YOU to my best friend for all her love and support over the last year, for her support with my therapy, everything medical and with her supporting my writing and just for being amazing.
A big thank you also to Jess for being so inspirational, I was so honored to be able to dedicate Forever Friends to you and I hope that you will continue to inspire others in your work within the disability community and as you strive to bring more awareness to important issues.
Also, a huge thank you to Chris and Kim and all the staff at Cody’s Café for the coffee, the supportive ears on days when thinking and writing is hard and for allowing me to hold my launch in the Café.
And to all who came to the launch, those who have purchased my books, sent kind words and reviews and have just been awesome through my writing journey so far.
Thank you all so much!
For now, keep on keeping on and check back soon for another blog post 😊
X x Tab
*Please note: All credit for photos go to those who took them, I do not own all of these photos. I have posted photos without a lot of people in the background for privacy reasons. If you would like a photo removed, please let me know*